April 20, 2008 Subject:
Labor of Thy Hands
Clearly an early propaganda film designed to promote closer ties between the Zionist State and the U.S. at a time when the Arabs and Egyptians were "barking at the gates." It does not, however, appear very different from similar films made in the early 21st century designed to cast the Zionist State in a favorable light in American eyes. Taken as an example of cold war era propaganda, it is a good film of the genre.
September 25, 2005 Subject:
New Hope in Israel (for a Little While, at Least)
This 50s film, made by Hadassa, the womens Zionist organization, tells us about the various vocational training programs the organization funds in Israel, and how they are bringing new hope to young people who previously had none. The Holocaust casts a long shadow on this film, though it is never explicitly mentioned. But there are all kinds of hints that the young people we see learning various job skills are mostly concentration camp survivors who not long ago had no reason to believe they would have any future at all. This lends the film a hopeful quality, as we see them given help to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, viewed from todays perspective, an even bigger shadow is cast by the long history of war, violence, and terrorism that we now know was just around the corner for Israel. Still, you cant blame the makers of this film for not being psychic, and viewed in the context of this time, it is one of the best, most respectful, and most realistic of the good works films that Ive seen, resisting the temptation to portray the recipients of its charity as pitiful, or to constantly shill for more money.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
November 13, 2003 Subject:
Give a dime, Help a zionist.
As soon as the credits roll on this unusual movie, you want to do some research. It says 'Presented by Hadassah', which, if you look it up, is the Women Zionists! Weeeeee! This weird film constantly equates american liberty with the freedom of the jews. They have the same workers, education and people as we do, so we should give them money! Kind of a stretch, but sure makes for one curio of a movie. Reccomended!
August 20, 2003 Subject:
Israel and America: a match made by films like this
"You'll meet Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. I repeat. Of America. Remember that." "Labor of Thy Hands" details and promotes Hadassah-backed vocational education projects in Israel. This film is a truly fascinating historical document.
Over and over again, this film tries to link Israel with American ideals. Nearly every hackneyed American cliche can be seen here (the pioneer, "Life, Libery, and the Pursuit of Happiness," and even gender stereotypes). There a slight hints of Cold War rhetoric, as the narrator talks about the "free world" and "democracy."
We can see the beginnings of the historical relationship between the U.S. and Israel in films like this. We can also see the lingering effects of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in "Labor of Thy Hands". This bit of ephemera is definitely a window on both past and present.